When Lin Manuel Miranda first brought to life the story of founding father, Alexander Hamilton, in 2015, critics raved. Miranda's authentic depiction of Hamilton's life in Hamilton has changed the way that people view and teach history. Ever since the premiere, the Richard Rodgers Theatre has been nearly sold-out every performance – with crowds paying over a thousand dollars per seat at times. Through all of Hamilton's success and notoriety, the musical provides a lesson that translates to the current political-social climate.
Before 2015, Alexander Hamilton was simply a historical figure who people overlook. In history textbooks, Hamilton's story was only one-page long if lucky. The United States would not be the country it was without Hamilton's contributions; however, it took Lin Manuel Miranda's musical vision to tell the impressive and remarkable story of Alexander Hamilton. The amount of people in history that people overlook is exorbitant. Despite shaping history, it is common to forget these notable names.
The lesson which has been abundantly conveyed in 2020 and called attention to through Hamilton is simple – to move forward together, we must acknowledge these names. Names of historical figures who shaped history hundreds of years ago but were neglected during their time. While also recognizing the people who are making history today. The actions and words of people are commonly ignored but deserve a voice and place in history. There are the names of people who were put in unfortunate circumstances who's legacy will remain at the forefront of the 2020 civil rights movement – Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, among others. These are people who have initiated an era of accountability and justice. The people who have provoked a movement and influx of protests and reform – both peaceful and hostile. 2020 will be in the history books of the next generation, and will hopefully last longer than a single page.
A different lesson can also be seen through Lin Manuel Miranda's narrative of Alexander Hamilton. Before Miranda created the musical, Hamilton, most Americans could not differentiate Hamilton from the other founding fathers. Through this musical, both the good and the bad about a figure in America's history are uncovered. Instead of changing history, Hamilton helps people to notice both sides of history and decide for themself. It shows the fans that sometimes the good outweighs the bad. Sometimes history was on the wrong side – especially during the founding and building of America. It is not acceptable to diminish wrongdoing because of a person's achievements. However, it is also not acceptable to limit a person's accomplishments because of their wrongdoing. Alexander Hamilton was not a perfect man – he was a leader who had old-fashioned ideas, but also helped the United States to grow when the country needed it the most.
In the musical, historical figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are known for their ability to create a strong foundation for the United States to build upon. Instead of hyper-focusing on the bad and stripping these historical figures – among others – of their achievements during their times, we need to take a step back. Recognize that the past is something we should not forget, but we are currently a different country with different people and beliefs. Taking down monuments and deleting the evils which existed in the past is not vital to moving forward. Hamilton teaches its viewers to educate themselves and learn from both sides of history. Understanding the political and social climate of our ancestors is an important part of growing together, as opposed to growing apart.
The events which have transpired these past few weeks are hideous acts of injustice and discrimination which have existed in America since its foundation. There is a problem with the "system." We need to look at and rebuild this system to be stronger and nonpartisan. Even though Hamilton is more than a musical, it teaches the viewer so much more about finding strength and building upon history instead of deleting it. Despite being only halfway through, 2020 is a year that invokes change, knowledge, and difficult but necessary conversations.
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